Articulation Rate and Vowel Space Characteristics of Young Males With Fragile X Syndrome: Preliminary Acoustic Findings Purpose Increased speaking rate is a commonly reported perceptual characteristic among males with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The objective of this preliminary study was to determine articulation rate—one component of perceived speaking rate—and vowel space characteristics of young males with FXS. Method Young males with FXS (n = ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2006
Articulation Rate and Vowel Space Characteristics of Young Males With Fragile X Syndrome: Preliminary Acoustic Findings
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • David J. Zajac
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Joanne E. Roberts
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Elizabeth A. Hennon
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Adrianne A. Harris
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Elizabeth F. Barnes
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jan Misenheimer
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Contact author: David J. Zajac, University of North Carolina Craniofacial Center, CB# 7450, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. E-mail: david_zajac@dentistry.unc.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2006
Articulation Rate and Vowel Space Characteristics of Young Males With Fragile X Syndrome: Preliminary Acoustic Findings
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2006, Vol. 49, 1147-1155. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/082)
History: Received April 25, 2005 , Revised November 15, 2005 , Accepted March 1, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2006, Vol. 49, 1147-1155. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/082)
History: Received April 25, 2005; Revised November 15, 2005; Accepted March 1, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose Increased speaking rate is a commonly reported perceptual characteristic among males with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The objective of this preliminary study was to determine articulation rate—one component of perceived speaking rate—and vowel space characteristics of young males with FXS.

Method Young males with FXS (n = 38), developmental age (DA)-matched males (n = 21), and chronological age (CA)-matched males (n = 16) were audiotaped while engaged in spontaneous conversation and a picture-naming task. Articulation rate in syllables per second during intelligible utterances and vowel space area/dispersion measures were acoustically determined for each speaker.

Results Males with FXS did not articulate significantly faster than CA-matched males. Area and dispersion of the acoustic vowel space also were similar between the 2 groups. Males with FXS, however, used significantly shorter utterances and had a tendency to pause less often than CA-matched males. In addition, males with FXS exhibited greater intraspeaker variability of formants associated with the vowel /a/.

Conclusions These preliminary findings suggest that articulation rate may not be a primary factor contributing to perceived speaking rate of males with FXS. Limitations of the study relative to speech production tasks and utterance intelligibility are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 HD44935 and R03 HD40640. Portions of this article were presented at a seminar of the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, November 2004, Philadelphia, PA. We thank Ray Kent for his input throughout the course of this study and suggestions for the manuscript.
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